Privateer on Your iPhone?

Galaxy on Fire 3D: The Bus Ride Review
One man. One game. One morning commute.

I forget how many space sorties I've flown over the years. Elite, Privateer, Wing Commander, X-Wing vs. Tie-Fighter, Freelancer....but those days are long gone. Then I saw Galaxy on Fire 3D for the iPhone, and all those memories came racing back.

Here's a title with a pretty impressive 3D engine-for a cell phone game. I hate to have to even throw in that qualifier, but hey, I want to point out that I'm playing a game that looks on par with the last Wing Commander games - in the palm of my hand. The obvious question: How do you squeeze a flight stick's-worth of controls into a cell phone game? You don't.

Controls obviously need to be simplified--you double-tap on lasers to automatically fire, for example. And while it's nice to have the accelerometer control option, I'm sticking with the d-pad in the lower left corner of the screen. Other buttons light up when applicable (when boost is ready or if you have more weapons available, for example) and you can tweak the stick sensitivity when you're banking and turning to draw a bead on enemy craft. the For the most part it handles like I'd expect. Until the game crashes. And crashes. Yep, aside from blast apart enemies, you might blast your iPhone onto the ground. The game crashed twice while on this particular morning commute. That said, I was more than happy to reboot and reenter the fight.

Over time--way more time than I have in a single bus ride--I see that there's a galaxy to explore, commodities trading between different planets and starbases, ships to buy and ship parts to upgrade...the works. Selling for six bucks, I at least feel like I'm getting my money's worth--so long as the team continues to actively refine the controls and patch bugs. The crashes are the only reason I can't give this a glowing green-light recommendation. Here's hoping they iron 'em all out, because I want to play more.

($6, iPhone)

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